Northern Venice tour
This classic boat tour is a must on the bucket list of every newbie or tourist in St. Petersburg. Organized by different companies, the route itself takes you along the Fontanka and Moika rivers and Kryukov Canal past the most recognized landmarks of St. Petersburg like the Hermitage Museum, the Summer Garden, the Peter and Paul Fortress, the Spit of the Vasilievsky Island, and the Anichkov Bridge in an hour. The perfect way to learn about the city without tiring walks!
Night boat tours
Drawbridge boat tours, especially popular in June and July during the White Nights, are a great opportunity to watch bascule bridges opening from up close. The bridges go up to facilitate the navigation of cargo ships between the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga, and watching the big ships pass by only adds spectacularity to the unusual two-hour long tour.
Boats at Sevkabel Port
A former cable factory, nowadays the Sevkabel Port is a place that, above all else, boasts its own pier and a unique boat tour around Vasilyevsky Island. On its way to the historical center, the boat runs along the Bolshaya Neva past the cruiser Aurora to the Senate Pier and brings you back to enjoy wall-sized murals, food for every taste, music, and performances in the walls of the Sevkabel Port.
Boats are more than a tourist attraction: they're a means of transport, and hydrofoils to St. Petersburg’s suburbs – Peterhof and Kronstadt – are proof of it. The whole trip takes only 30 minutes for both destinations, which makes it very convenient and fun as you not only get to the point of interest in the fastest way possible, but also enjoy the key St. Petersburg sights from the water.
Boat tours are only available during the navigation season, which runs from April till November, and summer is the most enjoyable time to take yourself closer to the water. Each boat company has its own schedule, but nevertheless, during the navigation period, starting at 9-10 am you can go on a tour any day and almost every hour. Night cruises are a little bit more tricky as they start around midnight. Considering the drawbridge season, make sure you're dropped off on the side of St. Petersburg where you live before the ride is over – in 2021, the usual nightly connection between Sportivnaya and Admiralteyskaya won’t be operational and taxis have not yet learned how to fly over the open bridges.
How much does it cost?
The prices vary depending on their duration and route, but there are some patterns. On average, a traditional tour of the rivers and canals costs around 700 rubles, night tours are usually over 800 rubles, while for a ticket on the hydrofoil to Peterhof you’ll be charged 900 rubles. Apart from the tours themselves, the prices usually include an audio guide and blankets to block the chilly sea winds. The cheapest deals can be found online, and there’s a 10% discount for students (don’t forget to show your student ID). If you’re going on a dining cruise to combine picturesque views with delicious meals, get ready to spend extra, as food and drinks are not included in the price and cost more than in mid-range restaurants.
Where to buy a ticket
In general, there are two legitimate and safe ways to buy boat tour tickets. The first one is to do it at one of the official piers. The most popular ones are located at the Admiralteyskaya, Fontanka, and Moika embankments. They serve as the starting point of most classic boat routes, while the others piers are often used as “hop-on, hop-off” points.
Another way is to purchase your ticket online at one of the companies’ websites like Nevatrip, Neva Travel, or Boattrip.ru. The key advantage of this option is the opportunity to book or buy tickets in advance, usually at a lower price. However, be careful purchasing tickets weeks before the trip – the weather with her usual unpredictability can easily foil your plans.
We also recommend avoiding street promoters who wander the city center and tout the “best cruises on the planet.” It’s highly likely that companies working this way are unreliable and sell overpriced tickets, making money off unaware tourists. Anyway, we hope this won’t happen and our guide will help you enjoy a completely positive experience!
Discover more activities to brighten up the warm days with our summer guide to St. Petersburg.